Sunday, February 28, 2010

Maybe knit fabrics aren't so scary after all

Not the most exciting of garments, and pretty horrible poly/cotton remnant fabric, but I am very excited about this humble pair of leggings that I made last night for Freja (excuse the terrible photo, she wasn't feeling very cooperative). They are the first thing I've ever made from knit fabric. I have been petrified of sewing with the stuff. For some reason I was convinced that I needed a serger, a special machine that sews and finishes the edge at the same same time like you see on store-bought clothes. Well, these leggings were made on my regular sewing machine and I think they've turned out okay.

There seem to be a few ways you can sew knit fabrics with a regular machine, it is important to make sure that the stitching can stretch with the fabric so that it doesn't break when the fabric is stretched as it is worn. A zig-zag, triple zig-zag or a stretch stitch which goes forward and back, could all be used, but for the seams on these I used a regular straight stitch and just stretched the fabric as I was sewing. I used a triple zig-zag for the hems and finishing the elastic.

The pattern was so easy, it is the Riviera leggings from the wonderful Farbenmix/ Studio Tantrum collaboration, Sewing Clothes Kids Love. There is only one pattern piece and it is really quick to sew. I made them in a cheap fabric first, without modifying the pattern at all, so that I could check the fit on Freja. I have a couple of minor tweaks to make and hopefully the next pair will fit her perfectly, although she's pretty happy with these ones. The book is full of great advice for a beginner like me and I'm looking forward to getting some of the other patterns in it traced out and sewn up.

I'm so excited about all the possibilities my first foray into the world of knits opens up. Most of the clothes my kids wear are made from stretchy fabrics and now I can think about making t-shirts, shorts, dresses, pyjamas, more leggings...

But just in case Peder reads this, I reserve my right to decide I need a serger in the future!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Playing with quilting

I have been thinking about having a go at quilting for a while, living in the US now I kind of have to. I did a bit of patchwork when I was little but always by hand, not on the machine. When I saw a log cabin quilt-along come up on a sewing forum I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to get started. Log cabin quilts seem to be universally described as perfect for beginners, each block is made up of strips around a central square. The strips represent the logs in a log cabin and traditionally they have a red centre to represent the hearth. They are usually made with a contrast between light and dark, this means you can make bigger patterns when the blocks are sewn up into a quilt.

I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle a whole quilt just yet so my plan is to try and make some cushion covers for our living room. The quilt-along isn't due to start until 1st March so for now I'm just planning what to do and making sure I have the supplies I need. I have bought a jelly roll (pre-cut 2.5" strips) of the gorgeous Momo Wonderland fabrics, which should hopefully brighten up the very beige room.

This black and white cushion was made from a cheap bundle of fat 1/8ths from Jo-Ann's, just to test out how it all works. I quilted the top by 'stitching in the ditch' (along the seam lines) because I don't think I'm quite ready for free-form quilting just yet. The edges are finished by folding over the backing fabric and stitching it down. I didn't put a zip in this one because I was being lazy, but I will probably try and do that for the next ones I make.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A little cashmere panda

This little guy is a present for my cousin's new baby boy. We both loved pandas as we were growing up, we had matching toy ones who were regularly married to each other. (Actually, we both still have them, mine is called Peter which provided much amusement on my Hen night seeing as my husband is Peder).

I made the little panda from thrifted cashmere sweaters which have been washed in the machine to fuzz them up a little bit. I used the bear pattern from the Aranzi Aronzo book Baby Stuff, which I picked up in the library on a whim, and adapted it to add the panda eyes. I tried using the sewing machine but that didn't work too well because the cashmere was so stretchy, so I sewed him by hand. He's turned out a completely different shape to the bear in the book but nevermind, he may be lumpy but he's very soft.

The End!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A lavender heat pillow

This was so easy and it feels so good I'm kicking myself for not making one before.

I didn't use any tutorial in particular. It's just a piece of flannel about 16" x 14" folded in half to make 16"x 7". I stitched along one short side and the long side, turned it right-side out and stitched two rows along the length to divide it into three channels. I used a makeshift funnel to fill each channel approximately two thirds full with a mixture rice and a bit of lavender, and stitched the end shut. I like this shape because it can be used as a flat pillow or the channels allow it to sit easily around your neck. I've already made a second one a little bit longer (this time in a fine corduroy) and I think that works even better around the neck.

About a minute in the microwave makes it lovely and toasty for applying to aching muscles. I used rice because that's what I already had in the house, but I've seen them made with flax seed and feed corn too (not pop corn, that could be interesting!).

The two I've made so far are making their way to Sweden with our visitors, so I will have to go and make another one for us to keep.

P.S. If you do make one make sure there are no metal threads in the fabric!

Monday, February 8, 2010

My first attempt at free motion machine embroidery

Okay, so it's a bit rubbish, but it was my first time...

I will be practising more, it was very fun to do once I managed to work out how to drop my feed dogs, install my new Big Foot presser foot, and get the tension on the threads about right.

I've signed up for a fabric squares swap so if I can get the hang of this, and also manage to work out how to do patchwork, maybe I'll get to try a bit of free motion quilting sometime soon too. I have a feeling that I might be wandering into the section with all the really pretty thread next time I'm in a craft store...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A turtle appliqué t-shirt for Magnus

This was a quick project to practise my machine appliqué, and use up a blank t-shirt I'd bought for Magnus before he outgrows it. I completely cheated on the design and cut the turtle out from some Ikea furnishing fabric. I hope he likes it!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Felt Danish Heart Purse Tutorial

I've always loved the look of woven paper Danish Christmas hearts and when I saw these felt ones on the Felt Cafe blog the other day I was inspired to have a go at making one in felt myself. I decided to turn it into a small purse and here's how I did it...

You will need:

Two colours of felt, I used some felted sweaters. Approximately 4" x 12" each.
Some fabric for the lining. Approximately 4" x 12".
Needle and thread.
I used a sewing machine for the lining but it could be done by hand.

An internet search for Danish Christmas heart will bring up lots of directions on how to assemble these hearts so I'm not going to go into huge detail here. This is the link from the Felt Cafe blog. There are some very fancy designs out there but I decided to start with the simplest possible one.

You could cut out a template to use as a pattern, or wing it like I did. The shape you need is a square (mine was 3.5" wide) with a semi-circle added to the top edge.

Fold your felt in half and lay the pattern on the the felt so that the bottom edge of the square is on the fold. Cut one piece (on the fold) from each colour. Make two equally spaced cuts from the folded edge, through both layers of felt, just slightly longer than the square.

Weave the two pieces together thinking about weaving through the loops rather than up and over them.

To make the lining cut out a piece of fabric the same size as one of your pieces of felt. Iron one of the long edges over by about 0.75" and then fold in half longways with the right side in. Stitch along the remaining sides about 0.5" from the edge. It's probably best to try and make sure the fit is right before you sew it as I think different thickness felt would need a slightly different sized lining. Trim with pinking shears close to the stitching.

Decide which side you would like to leave open and fit the lining into the heart so that the open edge is across the rounded part of the heart on that side. Stitch the lining to the felt around the whole opening by hand. Now stitch the other rounded side of the heart closed along the edge, and continue stitching all the way around the heart shape to give it some stability. You could use blanket stitch and contrasting thread but I decided to try and match my thread so you couldn't really see the stitching.

Cut a button hole in the top flap of the open side and stitch a button to the inside of the back flap.

Give to your three-year old daughter so she can fill it with small rubber princess clothes.

If you do make one I'd love to see pictures.